Interview with the Vampire 1×06 “Like Angels Put In Hell By God” is utterly and completely brilliant. The episode, after a couple of installments that didn’t quite always feel like Anne Rice’s story, is somewhat of a return to form. However, with that being said, there are still some pieces that don’t quite work.
Even so, somehow, it also manages to be an excellent penultimate episode that ties everything together and sets viewers up for…well. If you know, you know. Otherwise, let’s just say it’s good setup for the finale.
The Louis/Claudia bond
One thing Interview with the Vampire 1×06 does very, very well is create a special connection between Louis and Claudia. She’s the one there to care for him after Lestat’s horrible attack; and she’s the one who feels responsible for protecting Louis from Lestat as a result.
But there is, of course, a toxicity to the entire setup — something that actually both fits much better with this older version of Claudia and goes into territory that it absolutely shouldn’t, yet unfortunately does, due to her age. A Claudia with the face of a child, barely more than a baby, could play Louis against Lestat and poison his mind against his maker without it being so terribly obvious. That dynamic worked very well as “kid pitting parents against each other,” whereas this one…is, at times, something else. Something…not good.
This version of the character is clearly and blatantly manipulative in a way that the original might not have been. Not because the writing wasn’t there, but because it could be difficult, in some places, to see past the child’s innocence. Make no mistake: This side of the child vampire’s nature is much more apparent in later books, where her own words make an appearance. And it’s to the series’ credit that we get this picture — and not Louis’ rosy, loving memories — right from the start.
But there’s still that uncomfortable sense, even as Louis calls Claudia his sister, that she’s somehow also become a romantic rival. See also: using the Mind Gift to entice Louis to run away together while he’s having sex with Lestat.
At this point, with where these characters are in this story, though, it makes some sort of sense. Gone is the child, and now we have this. It’s still not what this particular Anne Rice enthusiast wants to see…
…but if we go with what the series has set up only, this episode’s implications fall right in line. With that being said, Claudia can’t win.
Louis won’t run away with Claudia when she asks, even as she cries in his arms during what they think is their final goodbye. Even after she’s helped him mend, physically and — to whatever extent possible — mentally from Lestat’s attack. And even after she’s pointed out all Lestat’s failures, all his manipulations, all his lies.
Louis will, quite literally, never really choose Claudia. At least not as things currently stand.
To what extent does that, rather than Lestat interrupting her escape, play into her plans? That answer’s left up to interpretation. But the way Bailey Bass plays the character, with a sort of ruthlessness and guarded demeanor far beyond anything we’ve seen so far, almost makes the “why” not matter. Because she will never overcome her lack of trust, her hatred, her need to protect Louis. She can’t even parse out — won’t even try to realize — the places where Lestat does make the effort.
At this point, even before he drags her home once again, even Lestat’s truths are lies in Claudia’s mind.
What Claudia can’t seem to understand, though, is hurting Louis to show him that Lestat is never going to change…won’t work. It’s not a sound choice, and it’s not the way to “win” him over. All it does is take him further down his own dark road of self-loathing. And, as viewers, regardless of what Lestat has done, we should not celebrate the way this character uses Louis as her pawn if we are supposedly in a position to condemn Lestat for doing the exact same thing.
If the intent here is to set Claudia up as the “right” choice, there are several failures here. But if the goal is to show how damningly alike Lestat and Claudia are, that’s one successfully met.
Louis, Louis, Louis…
I can’t say enough about Jacob Anderson’s performance as Louis in Interview with the Vampire 1×06. As the series’ penultimate episode makes it abundantly clear that vampires can survive near-deadly injuries but, even with blood as powerful as Lestat’s pumping through their veins, will need a long time to heal, Anderson makes it clear that healing is about much more than the physical.
Even decades later, Louis is still affected by that horrifying fall. We can say that knowledge is down to the flashbacks when Daniel presses Louis about the Cloud Gift. (They called it the Cloud Gift!!!!). But that would be a huge disservice to the subtle, understated expression Anderson delivers just before each flashback. In all his perfect moments of embodying Louis’ vampiric detachment, he’s even better about showing how much of an act that detachment really is.
So many tiny moments, little tells, add up to our ability to feel his pain. In the hands of a lesser actor, those pieces would either be way too obvious or not there at all. Not so with Anderson.
With that being said, when the moment calls for it, Anderson does go for obvious. And with equally impressive results. One very powerful example of that would be when Louis wakes up from his nightmare of falling through the sky. It’s a dramatic awakening, even as Anderson’s voiceover about the experience remains as preternaturally calm as ever.
Then, there’s that war playing out inside him, written all over that pained expression, when Lestat brings Louis his car.
“I’m nothing without you. I’m nothing without both of you. If you want me to go away, just say so. I’ll obey you; I’ll leave your life forever. Your silence is cruel, and you were never cruel, Louis.”
What Lestat doesn’t get here, but that it’s very easy to see in the performance, is that Louis doesn’t intend to be cruel. He just can’t say he wants Lestat to go…but also very much knows he shouldn’t want him to stay. There is so much feeling as he listens to Lestat’s unique composition — and an almost wistful quality to the enamored way he describes it all these years later, even knowing Antoinette’s voice was part of it.
Later, there’s the rage when Louis swims across the Mississippi to confront Lestat for including his side piece on that record. He shows a great deal of restraint in not attacking Antoinette. But at the same time, he gives her just enough of a dose of terror to get both her, and Lestat, to realize he means business. Then, there’s the myriad ways Louis shows how pained he is that Lestat lied about murdering Antoinette, even as he “accepts” it.
And the heartbreak as he tells Claudia he just holds her back.
So many emotions, delivered flawlessly.
Louis remains a vampire at war with his nature, sure. But he’s also a man at war with the two very at-odds side of his heart. His two great loves. (Or. Um. His two great loves at that point in his life.)
More on Claudia, actually
I’ve said a few times now that Bailey Bass is not to blame for any complaints I have about the way the series has handled the Claudia of it all. In fact, she’s made it far more watchable than it ever should have been.
Putting the actual right characterization into her very capable hands makes it all the more obvious that Bass is a talent. IWTV 1×06 takes passages from the text and, through Bass, brings them to vivid, glorious life. Forgetting everything else about the plot for a moment, let’s take a look at a few of her most stunning moments.
When Claudia grills Lestat about Nicolas, implying he loved him far more than he ever loved Louis (incorrect!), Bass nails the assignment. The life she brings to this particular passage from the text (page 119 of my well-loved Balantine paperback version…) is glorious to behold:
“…her equanimity overwhelming to me as she read her vampire books and asked Lestat questions. She remained undisturbed by his caustic outbursts, sometimes asking the same question over and over again in different ways and carefully considering what little information he might let escape in spite of himself.”
There’s also the talk about Claudia, with that vacant expression of hers when she starts to plot against Lestat. Case in point, from page 105:
“She fell to staring at him for hours. When he spoke, often she didn’t answer him, and one could hardly tell if it was contempt or that she didn’t hear. And our fragile domestic tranquility erupted with his outrage. He did not have to be loved, but he would not be ignored…”
It’s the conclusion of the chess scene, every unperturbed glance, every time Bass just flat out doesn’t react to Reid. Even in their most tense moments, Bass takes this quiet, calculating, character — all her plans and hatred boiling under the surface — and brings her to life in a way that even someone like myself, utterly in love with Kirsten Dunst’s version of the character, can not help but witness in awe.
Even with all the over-the-top, skipping around, squealing that turned me off earlier in the series, and even despite my struggles with some of the romantic implications that seem to be new additions here, I can say — with full authority — this is Claudia. Bass gets both the infant death on the page and whatever else she was told to become for the screen.
The many faces of Lestat
Interview with the Vampire 1×06 is, yet again, proof that Sam Reid gets Lestat. Even if we pretty much just have to endure and go with certain other threads that have been set up, Reid’s performance is second to none. He’s a completely different person when he’s so contrite, trying to win Louis back over, for those long six years.
And, again…We have to ask ourselves whether or not it’s real or just an abuser trying to worm his way back in. But regardless of which characterization you settle on, the performance is there. You could actually use the word “bashful” to describe Lestat when he tries to bring Louis that rare book from his favorite bookshop or, later, that brand new car. At the same time, though, every time he’s turned down, there’s something dark there, something simmering under the surface in response to the slights.
There are at least three big standouts from Reid in this episode.
First, there is the utterly heartbroken and haunted look, the way he gathers himself with a deep breath and turns to Louis, before telling certain parts of his origin story. That bitter smile when he says, “I cried; I called out to God” says so, so much. Anyone who has read The Vampire Lestat knows that horror and pain he experienced — and that Lestat is, in fact, telling Claudia the truth of his vampiric beginnings. Is the performance enough to sway viewers who don’t know that story, though? I’d like to say yes, but…I can’t turn off the part of my mind that already knows it.
Regardless, whether viewed as a masterful performance by Reid only or as yet more theatre by Lestat, the scene cuts straight to the heart. And it’s a true testament to all involved that the next big highlight for Lestat, more of a lowlight really, is the complete opposite side of his personality. But it’s worth pointing out that the motivation is that same vulnerability.
For all her faults, all her grudges and refusals to see the effort, Claudia gets one thing damningly right in “Like Angels Put In Hell By God.” Namely, it’s this:
“Lestat the vulnerable, becomes Lestat the irritable, becomes Lestat the controlling. You watch!”
He can become all of the above at any moment, and when he’s irritated or feels like something he desperately needs is slipping away, he will become Lestat the controlling in the blink of an eye. Push his buttons too much, and he even will become Lestat the Devil.
The Devil’s in the details
That brings me to my easy second favorite moment for Reid as Lestat in Interview with the Vampire 1×06. But I want to preface it by saying this: For a series that, initially, did an excellent job with showing how Louis’ experience was different as a Black man…I’m not sure it’s ever quite managed to do the same with Claudia. And I’m also very uncomfortable with the optics of the white “master” vampire dragging his “runaway,” who happens to be a Black woman, home — for any reason — in such a brutal way.
With that being said, Reid goes for deliciously campy here, and it works. He’s the embodiment of true evil in that scene, and it’s just pure theatrics, the likes of which are so on brand for the character. Pit that against how utterly gentle he is with the dog, and it’s utterly perfect.
It’s an excellent touch, to have that dog never once fear Lestat, even though Charlie’s horse was once unsettled by Claudia’s mere presence. Lestat and dogs…It’s a thing.
But, again, the scene only goes so far toward being praise-worthy when there’s also this added layer of race that the series incorporated…but abandoned/didn’t fully consider here.
Either that, or it was a consideration. And the creative team did want to make Lestat look even more horrible than he’d normally tend to be…But then, that again raises the question of how we’re supposed to stay invested in the overall Chronicles‘ main character, whether an anti-hero of a protagonist or not.
So, it’s odd to say how great the episode and the moment both were, while also saying there’s a misstep here, regardless. But. Here we are. It’s difficult to grapple with.
As a final piece for Lestat’s starring moments, we have his final scene in this episode. He is confused, shocked, unable to deal with the reality in front of him when Claudia finally bests him. This, too, is Lestat in a nutshell. It is not at all surprising that his defeat, his new sudden realization that he’s weak in some areas, resulted in a tantrum. A blow up. Rage.
More on Interview with the Vampire 1×06
- His voice?! In that song!!!
- At the risk of saying too much…that ending? Just…”!!!!” The Rashid conspiracy board continues to be covered in receipts.
- Emily Dickinson, vampire. Confirmed.
- No but the little skip on Lestat’s way into that train car/storage area. CAMP.
- “But I have a capacity for enduring. It’s why I don’t particularly like being abandoned.” He told you, and you didn’t listen!
- NOT THE GOAT WTF
- “He’s the father of lies…” What if she’d said “I came to make peace with you, even if you are the father of lies” instead? (p. 132)
- The entire Magnus conversation is about as true to text as you can get it without being a direct quote. For those of you who aren’t aware, grab a copy of The Vampire Lestat. Jump to Part II, Chapter 6. “…every single one of them had yellow hair, very much like my own hair. The few who had features left appeared to be young men, tall, slight of build. And the most recent occupant here — the wet and reeking corpse that lay with its arms outstretched through the bars — so resembled me that he might have been a brother.” (p.107)
- Yes, Lestat told Claudia and Louis the truth here. You’re welcome.
- Louis called Lestat a brat. BRAT. PRINCE. HAS. ENTERED. THE. CHAT…sort of.
- “Excruciating pain was the proof I was still alive.” Relatable.
- “Most vampires do not possess the Cloud Gift. With few exceptions, only the most ancient among us have it.” Keep that line in your back pocket, gang.
- DR. FAREED BHANSALI. I—.
- “I suppose…he thought if he exposed all his power to me, I would never feel his equal. And the relationship would suffer.” Or. We can go with Lestat’s reasons. “I never revealed to him half my powers, and with reason, because he shrank in guilt and self-loathing from using even half of his own.” (The Vampire Lestat, 2010 Ballentine Mass Market Edition, p. 498).
- Fareed and Rashid…sitting closely together…I’m sure that means nothing. (I’m lying.)
- “Are we the sum of our worst moments? Can we be forgiven, if we do not forgive others ourselves?” Riceian.
- It’s Louis throwing the coffin off the balcony for me. This story is a comedy.
- “The audacity of it all was matched only by its sincerity.” Lestat in a nutshell.
- “I hate you.” “As you should.”
- Louis being mad Lestat thought he’d get a rise out of him with that record…while he’s delivering the exact rise Lestat was looking for (and is hot for). Oops.
- “Pleasure never meeting you, Mr. Malloy.” “…he said to no one.”
- I adore that Lestat was so sincere when he answered Louis’ question about Paul. It felt like Rice was speaking directly to us from beyond the grave. For so many years, readers asked about this. She explained it more than once. But it’s always been a theory. The “I’m so misunderstood” vibe rolling off Reid here was exactly it. It’s totally what leads to Lestat having to “write” his own book.
- “I loved Claudia with all my heart, and I loved Lestat with a wounded one.” Beautiful line…but. Um.
- “Call me a dog. But an honest dog.”
- “We leave the damage so we never forget the damage.”
- No, Claudia. He didn’t love Nicolas more. Thanks for trying to hurt Louis, though. “Yet Louis gained a hold over me far more powerful than Nicolas ever had.” (The Vampire Lestat, p. 497, paperback. Thanks.)
- Omg just go to Europe already. The Theatre will love you.
- “He broods. She snipes.” And you love it, wolf killer. Don’t lie.
- “Because he’s all kinds of fucked up.” I mean, who wouldn’t be after that origin story? Honestly.
- Ok but when Louis and Claudia hugged, I got emotional. Same for that mouthed “I love you” with Lestat. They’re both, in their rivalry, just destroying him. Great job in one-upping each other in toxic love, I guess.
- Hm. They pointed out Rashid’s general-ish age. The theorizing continues.
- Interesting indignation from “the rent boy.” Can’t fathom why. (Conspiracy board says I absolutely can.)
- Lestat going to such great, damnable lengths to make sure Claudia stays with Louis and doesn’t wind up in the hell on Earth that is WWII…
- …I’d say he should’ve just told Claudia the truth about his worries instead of pulling that shit, but he is incapable. And she would never have believed the truth — just like she didn’t believe the truth about him receiving the Dark Gift from Magnus in such a torturous way — anyway. It was his only option. All kinds of fucked up, indeed.
- “He picked you over me.” She can’t stand it.
- Lestat went to great lengths to tell us why he can’t stand being abandoned. So, his choice of “you abandoned him” with Claudia on that train…It speaks volumes.
- “Because if you try this again, Claudia, I won’t snap your leg, defile your pocket, and zoom off on a motorbike. I’ll turn your bones to dust.” It might take a while and some help from an old friend, but this is totally a promise, not an empty threat.
- “…and he would be a slave no more than I would be a slave.” (Interview with the Vampire paperback, 122.) She’s right about that…wrong about Magnus.
- The secret in the book was just that Claudia wanted to kill Lestat and would enjoy it. Adding the twist of Louis enjoying it…*chef’s kiss*.
- The way the music built and built during that last chess game? Iconic.
- “Am I the man you came to kill? I did a terrible thing once. It wouldn’t surprise me.” He did.
- “The boy.” 10/10.
- …to reveal, at this point in the story, that Rashid has been around, unchanged, for a long time…
- CONSPIRACY BOARD COVERED IN RECEIPTS.
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